By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Celtics have officially sent a trade offer to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard, according to a new report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne, and Brian Windhorst.
Per the report, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Clippers have also made offers. The Spurs reportedly would only trade Leonard to an Eastern Conference team, while the Clippers are one of two teams Leonard has informed teams he will consider signing with as a free agent.
The other team Leonard will consider next summer is, of course, the Los Angeles Lakers. The overarching point of the ESPN story is that pressure is mounting on the Lakers to make their own offer for Leonard, especially as it becomes more and more likely that LeBron James will sign with them once free agency opens on July 1.
For the Celtics, the question, of course, is what Danny Ainge offered the Spurs. Boston’s package almost certainly would include the Sacramento Kings’ 2019 No. 1-protected first-round pick, possibly in addition to future firsts from the Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies.
As far as players, the centerpiece is likely one of three guys: Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, or Terry Rozier. Trading Rozier would essentially be a sell-high move for a Spurs team in need of a point guard. Swapping Irving for Leonard would arguably be an upgrade overall, but the question is whether it would be enough to give the Celtics a chance to have a chance against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Trading Brown? Well, it would surely be an upgrade for the one season that Leonard played here. But, again, is it enough to put the C’s over the top against the Warriors? And would it be worth the gamble to give up potentially a decade of Brown for what would be a one-and-done for Leonard?
Not to mention, some might even believe that Brown’s own ceiling as a player could be the caliber of Leonard. But even if he’s “merely” an All-Star for the next 10 years, is that long-term roster security worth giving up for just one season of an (admittedly) All-NBA-level talent, when it still might not be enough to dethrone the reigning NBA champions?
Ainge has always been a bold, aggressive GM, and he may be willing to take the gamble. But he’s also rarely made trades that didn’t turn out to be obvious wins for him and the Celtics. Would a Brown-for-Leonard trade be that kind of victory? Maybe if Ainge somehow convinced Leonard to spurn L.A., the place where he grew up and he’s wanted to play all along, to sign in Boston long-term.
The only thing that’s certain, now, is that Ainge was willing to put something out there for the Spurs to consider. At the very least, enough to make the Lakers sweat.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.